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House dismisses challenge of November 1996 election

The rallying cry was "Free Loretta."

It was coined for Rep. Loretta L. Sanchez, the freshman California Democrat whose first year in Congress was complicated by the claims of the man she defeated, Republican firebrand Bob Dornan, that illegal voting helped her deny him a 10th term.Her strategy was to stand firm, maintain that she'd won "fair and square" and focus on serving her constituents. It paid off Thursday when, after 13 months of investigating, the House dismissed Dornan's challenge of the November 1996 contest.

"Most people would say it would make me feel bitter but the fact of the matter is I knew I was right and they knew they were wrong," the 38-year-old financial adviser said in an interview. "I just didn't let it get to me."

Asked what she should have done differently, Sanchez laughed and said, "won by more" votes.

The investigation is over, but Sanchez must keep her seat in this year's election.